Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 3
Ladies love the grillmaster
By John Razook,
4:10PM, Fri. Sep. 25, 2009
In addition to my work as an almost-award-winning sportswriter, I am also known in certain circles as a true man of leisure and grillmaster par excellence. Which, of course, will win you few awards and even fewer dollars. It will win you friends, though, and for that alone I highly recommend studying the Many Ways of Meat.
It was my mastery of medium rare that took me and a couple of sidekicks to the laid back college town of Stillwater, Okla., over the weekend to help my beloved parents throw a dinner party for the ages. Upon our arrival, Kevin Hennessy (no stranger to these assignments; see "Ain't Nothing But a Good Time," for reference) was immediately put to work behind the bar, mixing drinks for the guests, who all seemed to have raging thirsts. John Wesley Williams, meanwhile, was thrust into the role of roving handyman, my mom's gopher, completing tasks such as oven roasting potatoes, refilling ice bins, and chatting up some of the older women who had either left their husbands at home or simply wandered away from them, curious as to who, exactly, these three strange men from Austin were.
My mother was quick to point out that one was most definitely her son.
Perhaps it was the smoke coming off the grill, or the smell of gently cooking meat, but I couldn't keep these gals off me, repeatedly being pulled away from the grill for a tight hug and refrain of "My goodness, I haven't seen you since you were this small!" Whatever the case, I spent the entire evening in total Dread, fearing that at any moment, one of my mother's friends would detain me just long enough to over-char the meat, spelling Doom for the party and our chances of enjoying what was left of a weekend that was supposed to be just as much about bass fishing and an Oklahoma State football game as entertaining my folks' friends.
Ah, Oklahoma State football. In one of the weeks to come, I plan on writing a piece explaining, mostly for the benefit of the Texas fan, the exquisite pain that being an oSu Cowboy fan brings about. No time for that now, though, if only because the pain is very real and none too exquisite at the moment, thanks, primarily, to the lofty expectations bestowed on the team this season, for perhaps the first time ever … goals and expectations that now, three weeks into the season, seem ridiculously absurd.
I watched the Oklahoma State-Rice game from club level seats with my dad, my first time in the fully-renovated T. Boone Pickens Stadium that is now the crown jewel of the Oklahoma State campus. It's a helluva thing, especially to those who remember the rusted metal bleachers that used to be home to the football team. Cowboy fans should, and certainly do, take pride in the new digs. If only they had a team they could be equally proud of.
This year, like so many years before, was supposed to be the year. The year the Pokes finally made the breakthrough to the big time, and joined the big boys in college football's elite. All the talent seemed to be in place, with returning offensive stars such as Dez Bryant, Zac Robinson, and Kendall Hunter, as well as a lock of a first round draft pick in offensive tackle Russell Okung. Newly-hired defensive coordinator Bill Young gave fans hope that the oSu defense, a long-running joke across the country, would finally be respectable. And following the season-opening win over Georgia, where the defense did, in fact, shine, the future seemed as bright as the color of orange worn by the good people in Stillwater.
Then came the Houston game. And after that, the Rice game, which, even though won by oSu, revealed that this is a team in deep, deep doo-do.
The defense looks terrible, in every way imaginable. A line that puts zero pressure on the opposing quarterback. Linebackers who get hurt on seemingly every play. Defensive backs whose idea of covering a receiver is to allow the receiver an eight-yard cushion to catch the pass and then hope to make an open-field tackle. Bad football. And on offense, supposedly the team strength, the offensive line has seen three different combinations of players through three games, failing each time to open up lanes for what was last year far and away the most dominant rushing attack in the Big 12. Hunter is hurt. Bryant gets cramps each week and has developed a serious case of fumble-itis. Robinson hasn't looked the same since last season's bowl loss to Oregon, where he was repeatedly crushed by defenders, separating his shoulder in the process.
One look at oSu in person was all I needed to know that this will be a long season in Cowboyland. Unless head coach Mike Gundy and his staff can somehow turn things around in a hurry, this is a team that will be fortunate to win six or seven games. They looked that bad.
Now, on to my rankings for this week …
1) Texas [3-0; 1-0]: Another sluggish first half for the Longhorns. But Colt McCoy had the flu, didn't he? Poor little Colt. Texas' defense did it's part, forcing two big fourth-quarter turnovers. The nation waits to see when UT will put a whole ballgame together.
2) Oklahoma [2-1; 0-0]: Landry Jones and his mustache are progressing nicely filling in for Sam Bradford. Six touchdown passes can certainly help a team forget its starting quarterback is injured. Huge game in two weeks against Miami, with a bye week for Bradford, who has resumed throwing, to continue the healing process.
3) Kansas [3-0; 0-0]: Absolutely destroyed Duke, which really only makes some impressive stats seem less impressive. Finally a big test on the horizon, with Southern Mississippi up next for the Jayhawks.
4) Missouri [3-0; 0-0]: Trick plays. Fans love trick plays, and Missouri rolled out more than one against mighty Furman. Nevada is up next for the Tigers, and this sportswriter believes we'll learn a lot more about Missouri this weekend.
5) Texas Tech [2-1; 0-1]: Taylor Potts racked up huge yardage through the air, but penalties and turnovers killed the Red Raiders when it mattered most. Tech doesn't have much time to reflect on the loss to Texas, though, as Houston and its Tech-cloned offense is up next in a nationally-televised game.
6) Nebraska [2-1; 0-0]: Craziest ending to a game so far this year? Probably so. Nebraska should have won. But Nebraska didn't win.
7) Oklahoma State [2-1; 0-0]: Grambling State brings its band and football team to Stillwater on Saturday. If the Pokes can't get the offense rolling this week, I vow to never again say anything good about my alma mater's football team. Not that I've said much good in the past.
8) Texas A&M [3-0; 0-0]: Aggie defense gashed for 30 points by Utah State. Much bigger challenges the next three weeks, with UAB, Arkansas, and then Oklahoma State on the calendar. Enjoy winning while you can, A&M fans. The joy ride's about over.
9) Baylor [2-1; 0-0]: Bears just lost to Connecticut. In football. You could forgive Baylor for dropping a game to the Huskies on the hardwood, but on the gridiron? Like Oklahoma State, Baylor probably bought too much into its own hype.
10) Iowa State [2-1; 0-0]: Paul Rhodes gets a win on the road in his first try. Pretty sweet, and something Gene Chizik certainly didn't accomplish with the Cyclones.
11) Kansas State [2-1; 0-0]: Showed flashes against UCLA but couldn't get the job done. Six possessions inside UCLA territory resulted in 9 points. Nine!
12) Colorado [1-2; 0-0]: Won a game.